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Best 2023 Christmas PR campaigns

Video Production
by Orchard News
Published on
The best PR Christmas adverts of 2023

It's the most wonderful time of the year - when the Christmas comms campaigns are launched! The phrase 'Christmas in July' is a well-known one in comms circles, as that's when many of these campaigns began the process of being brought to life. And now, as December nears, they're on our phones, laptops and TV screens. The launch of each film forms one part of the brands' campaigns, with video, digital integration and charity collaborations all featuring heavily in this year's efforts. The Orchard team have picked some of their favourites, and analysed what makes them great.

Amber – M&S Clothing and Home

M&S Clothing and Home has devised an advert with a wonderful message this year, lighting the way for people to say ‘I’m going to do whatever I want this Christmas’! By introducing four famous stars, including the amazing Hannah Waddingham, they’ve upped the excitement surrounding the advert.

Cleverly using Meatloaf’s ‘I would do anything for love’, it sets the scene of the stars playfully running about doing 101 jobs that they probably wouldn’t want to do, just for their families. However, the advert takes a turn when they realise that they’re done bending over backwards to please others, hastily cutting to clips of each of them ruining the beautiful Christmas decorations and goods they’ve just created. The advert serves as a reminder to make sure to do what you want in life, rather than always attempt to please others. It’s silly yet fun, and that’s why I enjoyed it!

It has however attracted some criticism due to an outtake clip being shared showing, red, green, and white Christmas hats being burnt in a fireplace, which many viewers pointed out match the national colours of Palestine. M&S deleted the outtake from its channels, but was it in time to ensure this campaign's place as a 2023 Christmas favourite?

Chloe – Amazon

Amazon is tugging at our heart strings this year, pedalling the message that Christmas isn’t just for children, it’s for all of us to embrace the child within us.

Like any good ad, we’re kept in the dark as to where the narrative is heading until about halfway through. We see three older women looking out onto a snowy hill where a crowd of children are sledding. It’s a scene characterised by a sense of longing, of time gone by and reminiscence. With a wry smile, one of the women sneaks a look at her friends and places a single tap on the Amazon ‘Buy Now’ button, purchasing an item that looks vaguely like a cushion.

Moments later (a nod to speedy delivery?) and kitted out with helmets, the three women gently place the cushions into their very own sleds. It takes one last shared glance of assurance between them before they’re speeding down the hill, laughing and squealing just like the children at the start of the scene.

Amazon’s USP is being the world’s everything store - search, buy, receive. It thrives due to its simplicity. Mirroring this, there are no pomp or frills in the sequence, no dialogue or wild, imaginative effects. An uncomplicated scene with a gradual increase in mood is all that’s needed to communicate Amazon’s key message – Joy is Shared.

Chanelle – Lidl

Lidl chose to create a heartwarming Christmas advert to remind viewers of the return of its Toy Bank, a nationwide donation drive which saw 80,000 toys donated to children who may not have received a Christmas gift last year. The message behind the campaign is that one small gesture of kindness can have a significant impact during the festive season. They intelligently used an adorable raccoon for this ad, animals will always catch the eye of the public and touch people’s hearts.

Lidl’s advert begins the story with the raccoon emerging out of a cardboard box with a Santa hat being held in their mouth, while the weather is cold and snowy. The raccoon is seen peering into the window of a home to see a family happily decorating their Christmas tree when unfortunately, the family’s dog knocks over the little boy's favourite Christmas ornament. To cheer the young boy up the mum buys him a monkey teddy which matched his ornament, on the way home sadly she drops the toy- but the racoon finds it! The racoon then goes on a mission to return the monkey teddy to the little boy. When returning the toy, the family dog chases the raccoon out of the house until he notices how happy the young boy is with the teddy. The dog and raccoon then share a Christmas dinner outside together while the boy is ecstatic about his teddy.

The advert premiered during popular TV show, Emmerdale. This a smart idea as it meant everyone who watched Emmerdale that night also saw the advert.The advert included two acts of kindness: the racoon reuniting the boy and teddy as well as the dog joining the raccoon for Christmas dinner. Lidl are also selling toys of the raccoon and the monkey and all proceeds will go to charity.

I believe this Christmas campaign is extremely well thought out as the best campaigns are the ones that leave an impact and play on people's minds for weeks after;  I can see the sweet raccoon sticking around for a while!

Eva – Shelter

Shelter’s hard-hitting Christmas ad tackling homelessness starts in a festively decorated post office with Maddie, our young protagonist, gazing longingly at a model toy house. Inspired by a remark about being “good as gold” in order to get your Christmas wish, Maddie engages in heartwarming acts of kindness. However, the ad takes a sobering turn as we discover Maddie wakes up on Christmas morning in dire housing conditions, sharing a cramped room with her mum and brother. “But I was so good,” Maddie laments, when we realise that all she wanted was adequate housing.

The ad really hits home locally, as over the last two years, a report was released detailing Guernsey’s hidden homelessness problem, with escalating figures in 2023.

And, as homeless charities are telling us, the twist in the ad works because we expect homelessness to have a certain ‘look’, and the fact that Maddie is well-presented, engaged in the community, and attending school is not what we expect from the homelessness stereotypes portrayed elsewhere.

For me, the premise of the ad is not only that children shouldn’t have to wish for a home, but also that we must refrain from deciding what someone’s living situation is like based on their appearance, manner, or morality, because as we know, someone can still be as “good as gold” and be homeless. As the cost-of-living crisis persists, the ad serves as a reminder to treat others with kindness, urging the community to support those in need.

Sophie – John Lewis

John Lewis has firmly established itself as master of the tearjerker; with their signature sentimental adverts marking the start of the festive season. But this year, things took a rather sinister turn. Instead of the twee stories we know and love, such as cute kids anxiously awaiting Christmas morning, a lonely old gent living on the moon or heartsick stuffed penguins seeking real love, this year, John Lewis present to us a terrifying 8-foot-tall Venus fly trap, masquerading as a Christmas tree.

Soundtracked with an original song, “Festa” (or “party”) sung by none other than Andrea Bocelli, marks a first for the retail giant, which usually favours covers, with the proceeds of this year's single going to charities such as Action for Children.

In keeping with some of the sentimentality we know and love, we follow the story of a young boy’s kinship with the unexpected plant, despite its near dog-eating, present-destroying tendencies - John Lewis must be admired for managing to evoke a range of emotion on a faceless sentient plant when it’s banished outside to the cold.

The video ends in typical heartwarming fashion, with the whole family embracing the strangeness of the flytrap, welcoming it as a part of the family for Christmas.

With cuddly, plushie flytraps and real life dionaea muscipula filling the shelves of Waitroses all over the country, John Lewis has again crafted a memorable marketing campaign, certainly snapping up the title of the leader of the pack for Christmas ads.

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